By Hemanth Kissoon
It is hard to believe this is Gianni Di Gregorio’s second film as director, it is so confidently made, and with such panache. The opposite of the lead character he also plays, a man in his 60s who suddenly feels like he should take a younger lover. There is a similar look at age as Gregorio’s debut behind the camera, the charm-saturated Mid-August Lunch; but the focus here is on a man suddenly frustrated that the world around him is surrounded by beauty and he is no longer seen as a contender. The last movie I remember that discussed this idea, as interestingly, of invisibility was with Frances McDormand’s character in Friends with Money. Getting older is hardly a major theme in Western movies; something perhaps brushed under the carpet, or not thought of as a box-office winner. Gregorio is mining this niche in an intelligent and winning way, making a gently bitter-sweet and satisfying confection.
The characters are given their actors’ real names, e.g.
Gianni Gianni Di Gregorio
Mother Valeria di Franciscis Bendoni
Alfonso Alfonso Santagata
Gianni’s Wife Elisabetta Piccolomini
Valeria Valeria Cavalli
Alyn Alyn Prandi
Cristina Kristina Cepraga
Michelangelo Michelangelo Ciminale
Teresa Teresa Di Gregorio
Lilia Lilia Silvi
Gabriella Gabriella Sborgi
I wondered if this was a pseudo-documentary, or in the vein of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I was corrected by the production notes. The director states, “Since my movies describe day to day life, I always try to work with actors that are as ‘genuine’ as possible and that have exuberant personalities and a natural generosity which shows in their performance. This is why the characters in the film continue to be called by their real names.” There is a definite lightness of touch from the cast. The film is a joy to watch, even in the most cringeworthy of moments when Gianni is trying to get his groove back. It’s The Inbetweeners without the messing-your-bad-self jokes. And as I was watching, that’s what struck me, the universality of the idea that so many experience the unsuccessful streak in romance. Ahem. I’m not talking about me of course!
Gianni Di Gregorio has managed to bottle lightning twice. He makes these charismatic social commentaries appear effortless.